Art and Human Rights

Arts and human rights are closely related and need each other. Art can only flourish in an atmosphere of freedom from fear, violence and repression. Democratic societies based on human rights provide the best institutional framework in which arts can thrive and artists are protected against repression and persecution. At the same time, the universal language of the arts, which attracts and empowers human beings around the globe more than any other means of communication, is the most powerful and joyful medium to promote the universal values of human rights. Yet, human rights and democracy are under stress.

We currently experience the most severe crisis of human rights and democracy globally and in Europe since the end of World War II. Armed conflicts, violence, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, extremism, radicalism, new authoritarianism, racism, fascism and similar forms of intolerance endanger the architecture of peace, development and human rights on which the world order after World War II has been built.

Globalisation driven by neoliberal market policies lead to global economic and financial crises, growing economic inequality, climate change, global injustice, corruption, organized crime, global migration and unrested power of transnational corporations which foster a climate of fear and insecurity, the ideal breeding ground for radicalisation and extremism.

This is the time when we need to stand up and defend human rights and democracy in Europe and worldwide. “We” means civil society, above all academics, intellectuals and artists. Venice, a historical meeting point of arts and culture, is the perfect place to start a new human rights culture.

Arts and human rights is the focus a partnership with the Berengo Foundation and Mouth Foundation through which a series of events have been developed.

For example we organize pop-up Human Rights Pavilion Cosmocafes around the world. Local hubs, free spaces to debate the conditions for sustainable coexistence of individuals and human cultures with each other, and with other species on the planet. We bring together thinkers and dreamers, visionaries and realists. Crossing over disciplinary boundaries and interconnecting global and local perspectives. The encounters are breeding ground for new knowledge and insights and the conversations are art. More info: